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How to pass the Part 1 FRCOphth in foundation training
  1. Peng Yong Sim
  1. Western Eye Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peng Yong Sim, Western Eye Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK; pengyong91{at}

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The Part 1 FRCOphth (hereafter referred to as Part 1) is the first of four examinations required for a Fellowship in Ophthalmology (FRCOphth) awarded by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth). It is considered to be one of the toughest exams in ophthalmology training, with an average pass rate of 44% in 2017 (cf. 62% for the Refraction Certificate, 62% for the Part 2 FRCOphth written and 60% for the Part 2 FRCOphth oral).1 It also has the lowest pass rate (39%) and is the most expensive (table 1) of any entry-level postgraduate exams undertaken by foundation doctors in 2017.2 Unlike other popular entry-level postgraduate exams (eg, MRCP Part 1) where the syllabus directly extends from medical school curricula, the knowledge required for the Part 1 is mostly non-transferrable.

View this table:
Table 1

Comparison of cost between popular UK entry-level postgraduate exams*

At present, foundation trainees in the UK are only permitted to sit the Part 1 following full General Medical Council registration (ie, after completion of foundation year 1).3 The exam is not a mandatory requirement prior to commencing Ophthalmic Specialist Training but ophthalmic trainees are required to pass it before entering into the third year of their training.


Part 1 aims to assess a candidate’s ‘understanding of patient investigations and knowledge of basic and clinical sciences relevant to ophthalmology’.4 Consequently, there is …

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  • Contributors PYS conceived the idea for this manuscript and was responsible for the first draft, revision, critical appraisal and approval of the final version for publication.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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